The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee publishes its report into Northern Ireland and the referendum on the United Kingdom’s membership of the European Union. The report identifies the potential impact of a Brexit in key areas such as the economy, agriculture and the border with the Republic.
The Committee comprises MPs who have publicly supported both the Leave and Remain campaigns. The final report is published with the full support of the Committee and reflects their commitment to setting aside their personal opinions to provide a balanced assessment of the potential impact of a Brexit for Northern Ireland ahead of the EU referendum.
We are grateful to all the witnesses who provided evidence and opinions to the Committee during the course of our Inquiry, the sessions for which were held in Westminster and Belfast. We are also grateful to those individuals and organisations who submitted written evidence.
On publishing the report, Committee Chair Laurence Robertson commented:
"As a Committee, we were concerned that people in Northern Ireland were perhaps not as exposed to the details involved in this referendum as we would wish, especially when faced with opposing claims and frightening statistics on a daily basis. We launched this inquiry to help the people of Northern Ireland get a better understanding of how the choice to leave or remain could affect their day-to-day lives, as well as the overall direction of the Province.
Our intention was not to promote either argument—we have MPs on the Committee from both camps—but to indicate what the significant effects of leaving the EU could be, what outcomes we can be sure of, and what we do not know. We also attempted to explore how the EU might evolve over the next few years.
Should the UK decide to leave the EU, many of the issues we have examined would be subject to negotiations, the outcome of which it is not possible to definitively predict. No one can say for certain what our trade arrangements with the EU would be or how border arrangements with the Republic of Ireland would change, if at all. Nor, of course, do we know what the EU will look like in, say, five or ten years’ time, or what the depth of the UK’s involvement with the EU will be by that time.
Voters will therefore have to make up their own minds based on whether the potential benefits of leaving the EU outweigh the perceived risks. As we say above, it was not the Committee’s intention to make a recommendation either way. However, we do hope that this report will help the electorate of Northern Ireland make an informed decision."